The SAT Prep Black Book

SAT Writing Multiple Choice

Improving Sentences Quick Summary

This is a one-page summary of the major relevant concepts. Use it to evaluate your comprehension or jog your memory. For a more in-depth treatment of these ideas, see the rest of the section.

The Big Secret: There are 3 bizarre patterns that help us identify the correct answers in situations where it’s not clear.

Here are the rules for these questions:

oThe SAT grammar concepts from the Identifying Sentence Errors questions still apply to these questions. The right answer must be grammatically okay.

oBut SAT style also counts on these questions. Sometimes you’ll have two or more choices that are grammatically okay, and then you’ll need the style patterns (see below).

oDon't pick a choice that fixes one problem but creates another.

oChoice (A) is always the same as the sentence.

Here are the 3 patterns:

oShorter is better, all other things being equal.

oFewer words ending in “-ed” or “-ing” is better, all other things being equal.

oFewer words that are under 5 letters long (“that,” “and,” “as,” “in,” “by,” how,” and so on) is better, all other things being equal.

Here's the general Improving Sentences process:

oRead entire prompt sentence.

oRead the answer choices and eliminate any with grammatical mistakes.

oIf you’re not instinctively sure which choice has the best SAT style, then determine which choice follows the most of the 3 patterns above.

oRead the entire sentence with your preferred answer choice in place of the underlined portion to make sure it’s good.

oMark your answer or skip the question.

For examples of these principles in action, please see the Blue Book solutions in this Black Book.